Worms & Germs Blog

Monthly Archives: March 2011

Spring is here, so are chicks in classrooms

Posted in Other animals
A sure sign of spring is the proliferation of classrooms hatching out chicken or duck eggs. While chicks may be cute and entertaining, they are also high-risk sources of Salmonella and some other infectious microorganisms. Numerous Salmonella outbreaks have been linked to contact with hatchling chicks, and care must be taken if teachers are considering… Continue Reading

Dead birds around a feeder: What to do?

Posted in Birds
Like any animal, disease outbreaks can occur in wild birds. Unless they are large outbreaks they often go unnoticed, but smaller outbreaks can sometimes be encountered by homeowners with bird feeders. Because bird feeders are mixing sites for birds, they are also sites of disease transmission and a place where deaths can be identified. In… Continue Reading

Zoo flu

Posted in Other animals
The pandemic H1N1 influenza virus continues to circulate, although the hype has certainly died down. During the original 2009 pandemic, there were a few reports of infection of domestic animals, particularly ferrets and cats. This wasn’t particularly surprising since we know these species are susceptible to human influenza viruses, and with so many people infected… Continue Reading

Anyone seen a cobra?

Posted in Reptiles
The Bronx Zoo has closed it’s reptile house following the disappearance of an Egyptian cobra. Officials noticed the 20-inch-long snake was missing on Saturday, and they are presumably carrying out a diligent and very careful search. There’s probably no risk to the public (as long as the snake wasn’t stolen). It’s likely curled up hiding… Continue Reading

When not to bring your dog to work

Posted in Dogs
In some situations, bringing a pet to work might be acceptable. In other situations, it’s totally inappropriate. A UK dentist learned that the hard way. Ian Hulme-Ribsy, a dentist, was found guilty of unprofessional and inappropriate conduct for several bad behaviours. One was that he brought his dog to his dental clinic and failed to… Continue Reading

I have MRSA…should my pet be tested?

Posted in Cats
I get this question a lot, from both pet owners and veterinarians. Typically, my answer is "no." Why not? The two big questions I always ask are "why do you want to know and what would you do with the results?" Sometimes people want to know their pet’s MRSA status to see if the pet was… Continue Reading

Radiation fallout risk for pets?

Posted in Other diseases
This isn’t an infectious disease topic but I’ve had a few questions about it nonetheless, so I thought it would be worth making some comments here. With nuclear meltdown concerns in Japan, some pet owners (particularly on the west coast of the US) are flocking to veterinarians looking for potassium iodide pills for their pets. Potassium… Continue Reading

Kinkajou owners beware

Posted in Other animals
Kinkajous are strange little mammals from the Procyonidae family – the same family to which raccoons belong. Kinkajous are native to Central and South America and are occasionally kept as pets, but they don’t make great pets because they are strictly nocturnal, can be cranky when woken during the day, and can sometimes be aggressive.… Continue Reading

Psittacosis outbreak from a bird fair

Posted in Birds
A paper in Epidemiology and Infection (Belchior et al 2011) describes an outbreak of psittacosis (Chlamydophila psittaci infection) in people who attended a bird fair in western France in 2008. The investigation started off with the identification of the bird-associated disease in three people at a local hospital. All three were hospitalized with respiratory disease,… Continue Reading

Rabies update

Posted in Dogs
ProMedMail tends to publish a monthly rabies report. While a lot of it involves the same basic issues, there are sometimes a few more interesting stories: Rabies in a donkey in Georgia Like all mammals, donkeys are susceptible to rabies virus but infections are not particularly common. Raccoon rabies has also be identified in the… Continue Reading

Pet raccoon attackes baby, owners in denial

Posted in Other animals
Raccoons are fascinating critters but they don’t make good pets. Their curiosity makes them quite disruptive and damaging, and they have seriously injured people (particularly infants). They are also rabies vectors, and in many regions raccoon ownership (along with other wildlife species) is illegal (or only legal with a license). Despite all this, some people… Continue Reading

Another pet treat recall

Posted in Dogs
Jones Natural Chews Company has recalled 2705 boxes of pig ear treats because of a "potential" for contamination with Salmonella. The recall was the result of a routine sampling program by the Washington State Department of Agriculture which revealed that the finished products contained the bacteria. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Salmonella contamination of raw… Continue Reading

Beware of the “Rango” effect

Posted in Reptiles
When a particular animal species or breed gets a lot of attention, such as through a popular movie or TV show, there’s sometimes a major increase in people wanting one as a pet. The proliferation of Dalmatians after 101 Dalmatians, and people buying Jack Russell terriers in response to Eddie from Frasier are only two… Continue Reading

Elephant-human transmission of tuberculosis

Posted in Other animals
You can probably tell from various posts that I’m a fan of the CDC’s journal Emerging Infectious Diseases. It’s a great journal containing interesting infectious disease reports about people and animals (it’s free too, which is a nice bonus). In addition to the ferret infection I wrote about, the last edition also has a very interesting… Continue Reading

Wierd Mycobacterium infection in a ferret

Posted in Other animals
A letter in Emerging Infectious Diseases (Ludwig et al 2011) describes an uncommon Mycobacterium infection in a pet ferret, with potential human health concerns. The three-year-old ferret from Germany was taken to a veterinarian with a five-month history of coughing, recent weight loss, vomiting and mild diarrhea. A chest radiograph was taken and "nodular densities"… Continue Reading

H1N1 flu outbreak in ferret shelter

Posted in Other animals
We’ve known for a while that cats and ferrets are susceptible to many human influenza viruses, something that was again demonstrated last year through sporadic (and often fatal) reports of H1N1 influenza in both species. Since H1N1 is still in circulation in the human population, there’s still a risk of exposure of cats and ferrets,… Continue Reading

Do you wash your hands at a petting zoo?

Posted in Other animals
Petting zoos can be great events (I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again!). I end up visiting many with my kids every year.  Despite the fact that a few petting-zoo-associated disease outbreaks also occur every year, and despite the fact that I deal with infectious diseases every day, I still don’t get too concerned… Continue Reading

Kennel cough vaccination and boarding

Posted in Dogs
It’s very common for kennels to require dogs be vaccinated against "kennel cough" before they are allowed in. There are two main reasons for this: Reducing the risk that a dog will bring kennel cough into the facility and spread it to other dogs. Reducing the likelihood that a dog will acquire kennel cough if… Continue Reading